Pecan turtles are so good because they pack multiple flavors and textures into every bite: Crunchy, buttery pecans are held together by chewy, sweet caramel, and the whole thing is coated with rich chocolate. We wanted to translate this into a cookie that would be as satisfying as the candy. A thumbprint cookie was the perfect vehicle for these ingredients; the hollowed-out center could conveniently hold a pour of gooey caramel. The rich chocolate dough gets its flavor from a generous amount of cocoa powder; using cocoa powder kept our cookies from being too sweet when paired with the caramel. For a dense, tender cookie, we omitted the egg white (and saved it for the coating) and added just one yolk. We rolled balls of the dough in chopped pecans, which toasted during baking and provided all-around crunch. To keep things simple, we used store-bought caramel candies for the filling and melted them down with heavy cream. We filled the cookie divots with caramel when the cookies were done baking so it set without becoming too hard or chewy. Be sure to microwave the caramel and cream in a bowl large enough to contain the mixture, and stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from bubbling over or scorching.
- Yield: 30 cookies
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 0.33 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 0.66 cup (4⅔ ounces) sugar
- 1 large egg, separated, plus 1 large white
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups pecans, chopped fine
- 14 soft caramels
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites in bowl until frothy. Place pecans in second bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans; space balls 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Using greased rounded ½-teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each dough ball. Bake until set, about 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
- Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. When cookies are done baking, gently reshape indentation with ½-teaspoon measure. Fill each indentation with ½ teaspoon caramel mixture. Let cookies cool on sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.